A twisted tale of Life, Politics, and what some might consider cruelty to animals ...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chapter 16

Angela and I appeared to be the first ones awake that next morning, or at least we were the first to arrive in the conference room the next day for the morning meeting. I must admit that I had a decided spring in my step this morning as the two of us made our way into the room, still holding hands. I gave up that hand only grudgingly, and only in order to pile an inordinate quantity of food onto a plate to assuage the massive appetite that I appeared to have on this day. I will likewise confess that the food tasted especially wonderful this morning, and the coffee was great as well. I smiled into my plate as I realized that if I hadn’t gotten my normal amount of sleep for the evening (and I was smugly pleased to be able to say that I hadn’t), I had been more than compensated for its lack. As far as I was concerned this morning, God was in His heaven and all was right with the world.

Please do not mistake such religious references for strong belief in a higher power. If pressed, I would have to say that I treat the concept of religion as I do most other subjects, with fear and ignorance. I think that I have about as much chance of truly understanding the nature of such a being, if it exists, as I do of inventing a new form of multi-dimensional mathematics. I am not sure that the finite mind of Man may ever have the ability to understand what has always been explained to me as an infinite creature. The only thing that I think I know is that it seems that there must be something bigger than Man out there, or the process of existence becomes rather pointless. What that larger thing is, what responsibility it takes for the day-to-day affairs of life, and whether such a being should require worship is beyond me. As for the variety, inconsistency, incongruity, and sheer madness of the belief systems that Man has tried to attach to such an entity over the years … don’t even get me started.

The rest of our gang soon began to file in by ones and twos as Angela and I were eating. None of them looked as if they had abused the privilege (or the open bar) at last evening’s festivities too badly, and all looked ready to face the day with an open mind, a cheerful outlook, and a fairly steady hand. As for Phillip and Lorelei, they never seemed to show anything more than the unruffled countenance that they always presented the world. (I assumed that it had to with either good breeding, good training, or both.) No one chose to comment on what had to be the silly grin on my face (or Angela’s), and for this I was mildly grateful. Things were called to order pretty much on schedule in spite of the lateness of last night’s event, and Phillip began the day’s meeting by addressing the group.


I want to thank everyone again, for the work that they did in pulling last night’s event together. Paul and Melissa, you are to be congratulated on both the quality and the quantity of the attendance. The two of you really managed to bring together the best and the brightest for our support. Katie and Andy, the remarks delivered last evening, including my own, were brilliant. I don’t know what the long-term benefits of last night’s event will be from our friends in the press, but if this morning’s coverage in the papers is any indication (and here he picked up the newspaper that he had carried into the room with him), at the very least it was great success. As for you Angela, while you did not participate with us in the planning, your spirit was felt throughout your absence. Additionally, and on more than a personal note, I will say that we all missed you a great deal and now welcome your return to our endeavors.

Sean, I left you for last on purpose. What you did last night will be long be remembered here. I don’t know what inspired such thinking or whether it will make a difference in the end. I certainly don’t know if we will reach our final goal in this; but win or lose, I am grateful for your efforts and for the direction in which you have begun to take all of us in this campaign. I can’t begin to thank you enough for putting us on this path no matter what the outcome.”

If he says ‘aw shucks’ Angela, kick him,” Katie said laughing from her seat.

I assumed that it was a joke, but pulled my legs to the side in any case, having already experienced the lady’s kicking abilities on more than one occasion. “If that’s the case Phillip,” I said, smiling at him, “You’re really going to like my next idea.”

That stopped him and the rest of the group sitting at the table cold, and I went on to outline, as I had for some of the group the night before, what I had in mind; the entire table sat in stunned silence. What a political debate was and what such a thing was like where I came from were all new ideas to them. One look at the “dead fish” looks that I was seeing around the table was enough for me to understand how outside of their experience this was. You know the one that I am talking about. It is the “deer in the headlights” thing with a dropped jaw added to the mix. I could see that this was going to take a bit of time to settle in. 


This was not the case for our fearless leader however. Phillip seemed to grasp the idea as quickly as I outlined it, and approved of the idea both immediately and enthusiastically as a way to continue the positive effort that we had begun. While the rest of the team was trying to get their minds wrapped around the concept, he seemed to honestly desire the chance to openly debate the issues that were most important to the future of Macundo. There were any number of questions as to the details of how such a thing as this debate operated, but it was apparent that there had been a good deal of discussion about this by our core team after Angela and I had left the party. It appeared that everyone that needed to be was already at tentatively on board with carrying out this program and only needed the decision of Phillip and the requisite details to put it in motion.

Katie was sure that she could get the press to go for it as long as we could schedule the event so as to allow them to promote it properly and at a time of day that would allow them to make their print deadlines with transcripts as well as commentary. This was exactly the kind of feeding frenzy that they loved in order to drive up circulation of the paper during an election cycle. The only real problem that she could foresee would be getting agreement on the reporters or experts who would make up the panel asking the questions of the two candidates at the debate. There were a lot of old jealousies and feuds that might need to be dealt with before we could find a tribunal that would be acceptable to us, the enemy camp, and to the media. I suggested to her that while she try her best to be truly fair to everyone, that she also remind them that if no agreement could be reached, no feeding frenzy would be had. I told her that she could then threaten to release the names of the spoilsports to the rest of the media as scapegoats if the agreement couldn’t be reached and the whole thing ended up falling through. This would be especially true if the hold up came from our opponents. That ought to keep all of them in line.

Andy’s concern was for the venue for such an event and how it would affect the potential attendance and logistics. We would need a place large enough to be able to accommodate the media outlets and their technical requirements, but not so large that the candidates got lost in cavern of a building. A smaller venue would be easier to handle, and would make our guy look good. I agreed with his sentiments, but my lack of familiarity with the area and its offerings left me with no suggestions. Just as this discussion threatened to divert the attention of the gathering, Melissa came to our rescue, suggesting the use of the theater in the Minica. She had performed there for a number years before her movie career began to take hold, and she was convinced that it would more than suit our purposes. On top of having the architectural grandeur required to add a touch of weight to such an event, the building had an interior design more reminiscent of a classic old opera house and marvelous acoustics to boot. Its size and seating arrangements should make it an ideal site for press and spectators alike, without dwarfing the two candidates.


The big surprise of the morning was Arturo, who volunteered to work with Phillip on what I would choose to call ‘issue preparation’. As we all stared in amazement at him, he argued cogently and decisively that after all of the time that he had spent listening to Phillip’s father Arturo, as well as the time that he had spent listening to Phillip, that there was no one more in tune with the family’s ideals. In addition, his retention of those conversations and ability to recall them from memory made him better for this kind of preparation than anyone else. The case he made was so definitive and articulate that no one chose to argue; and even Phillip seemed pleased with the idea of working with him in this fashion.

In the end, the only real disappointment that I had with the whole idea was that this world did not have anything resembling live television. Phillip was such a genuinely warm and personable guy, that I knew that our guy would come through to people in a live format. I was more than a little concerned and perturbed that the final results of our efforts would end up being filtered through film and newspaper editors. With no such thing as a live television broadcast in this world however, there was no alternative but than to give up control of the final product to this world’s version of the “vultures of the media” and hope for the best.

The meeting broke up with a final round of backslapping and mutual admiration over the success of the previous night. There were already some additional follow up interviews from that event scheduled for later today, including a ground breaking interview with Phillip and Lorelei during lunch that Katie was focusing most of her attention on. Andy was putting together the release of some fliers and posters with pictures of some of our famous guest speakers along with quotes from their respective night’s speeches. Paul and Melissa were off to a short shooting schedule on a movie project that they were both committed to, and wouldn’t see us for a week. They had some long hard days of earning a living ahead of them, and no one begrudged them the time to do it. They had more than earned some time away from the campaign. Angela was anxious to resume the duties that she had put aside during her recent absence. Everyone, in fact, got back to his or her busy life both in and out of the campaign. That is, except for me. There was nothing that I could do at this point but watch the rest start this next ball rolling, and make sure that I was around where needed to speak to the details as we went along.


I was never particularly good at watching (in fact, some people would tell you that I can be a real pain in the butt to have around when attempting to do so), and decided that I might be able to avoid making both my returned love and companions angry with me if I got more fully out of their way. Besides, I could always use the time and exercise to walk off the hearty breakfast from this morning. Without consciously choosing to do so, I soon found myself outside the Manor House; watching the tables, chairs, and party decorations being taken down and hauled away from last night’s festivities. I wondered if such things were really any different after political events in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, or Illinois; but in truth, had little experience with such things in my world. The attempted comparison did however; get me suddenly wondering how things were going back where I came from. I had been now been away from my world for a couple of months as time was measured here, but experience taught me that such things may or may not have any meaning to me in my world when I returned. Note that I didn’t say if I returned.

I suddenly realized with more than a little trepidation that sooner or later I would be leaving this place. No matter how much I might like things around here (some things a good deal more than like), such a thing had to be considered sooner or later, and a time was approaching when all of this would come to an end for me. I had never had a choice in this in the past, and didn’t expect one here. I also hadn’t expected that I would have formed the attachments in the two months that I had been here. For the first time in all of the things like this in my life that I had been through, I didn’t know if I wanted to go back. I thought about a lot of those experiences, and none of them had felt quite like this one.

Reminiscence of this kind soon led inevitably to questioning the reality of everything around me, as I had so often during past travels. Was any of this real, or was I simply delusional? Would I then have to leave this place too, or was I finally destined to remain in one of the places I had traveled to? If I were to leave, when would it happen? Was there something in particular that I needed to accomplish before I left, or would I just be pulled away at some arbitrary moment? What would things be like when I got back, if I got back? Did I even want to go back? What could or would I be able to do about Angela and I if I did?

Whoa son!” I said out loud, but to no one but myself. “You need to get back on track here. These are important things to consider at some point in the future, but probably not now. Not only are there important things to do around here and damned soon, but there are a lot of people who are counting on you to get them done. The truth of the matter is that the questions that you are asking are going to do no one any good at this point. I will guarantee you however, that continuing to run them around in your tiny little brain will make you completely miserable. This might be a good time to end all of the idle speculation that you are making, pull yourself up by the proverbial jock strap, and keep your mind in the game.”


It wasn’t much of a pep talk (certainly not on the scale of one of the classic Knute Rockne speeches), but it was good enough for me, with or without a dying Gipper. It was, in fact, enough to get me moving again and get my mind onto a more productive path. Would Christy (or more importantly, Randall) agree to participate in a political debate? How could we get our man Christy to sign on for such a thing? What part, if any, would Randall try to play in such an event?

Yeah, this was more like it. While everyone else was doing his or her jobs, I needed to do what no one else in this world could do in this situation, and focus on overall strategy of the event. That after all, was the job that I had been brought here for in the first place. All those years that I had spent selling things ought to give me the ability to figure out a way to make someone buy into something that they would not be totally convinced was in their best interest.

Don’t get me wrong when I describe selling in such a manner. I have the highest respect for the people in the world who sell people things, having done such work as part of my past (as I just pointed out). Most of these people, unlike the common image given them, are highly skilled and respectable professionals. They are people who make an honest effort to do the best thing not only for their respective employers, but also for their customers.

The job of a true professional in sales in any industry is to listen to the customer as they describe their wants and needs, then work with the customer to come up with the best plan to meet those wants and needs. Then it is simply a matter of removing any impediments that might get in the way of them doing what they already wanted to do; and allowing that customer to purchase what is required to fulfill those wants and needs. The final job of that sales person is then to follow up with the customer in such a way as to make sure that everything has gone according to that plan and that the customer is as happy with the purchase that has been made after the purchase as they were before. One of my old bosses used to say that: ‘No one ever really sells anybody anything. The real pros at selling in this world just do a good job of letting customers buy things.’ I always followed that thinking, though some customers needed more help than others understanding what they needed, and not all of them immediately realized that they should be buying it from me.


This is not to say that there are not those out there who do not follow any rules except the rules of self-interest. This type of seller is worthy of all of the scorn that has been heaped upon the entire profession; and is the kind of thing that should be scraped off of the bottom of the shoes of society at the earliest opportunity. I have found myself working with or near such types in the past, but I choose to call them ‘peddlers’ to distinguish them from the true selling professional. These are usually easily distinguished by a constant and annoying smile and an answer (usually wrong) for everything. My advice to you when you discover you are near one of them would be to avoid them like the plague that they are whenever possible. When avoidance is not a viable option, verbal and physical abuse, heaped upon this person on a Biblical scale, should never be ruled out as an alternative.

This particular situation looked like one where the customer that I had in mind was definitely not aware of the needs that he had, probably because he didn’t understand what the greater good was. My job was going to be to explain this customer’s needs to him in a way that he would accept, sell him a program to meet those needs, and then educate him as to that greater good in order to get him to fully buy into the program. As Sherlock Holmes might say if he were here: ‘Quite the three-pipe problem Watson.’ Attempting to solve it would keep my mind whirling like the proverbial dervish for the rest of the day.


As usual most of our core team got together later that day for dinner, and the typical evening’s buffet was laid out for our convenience. There was a lot of excitement in the room as we spent some time comparing notes on our progress for the day. There were a number of decisions to be made on what our next steps needed to be and time was short. Katie and Andy were already thinking like me, about how we got our ‘friends’ to commit to the debate that we wanted, even if they didn’t want it. The publicity from last night’s party would certainly help to get the ball rolling, but we needed to put them to the question (as they used to say during the Inquisition).

We know,” Andy started, “that much as we would like to, we can’t appeal to Christy’s better nature. He doesn’t have one.”


Yeah,” Katie continued. “The only thing that the man seems to understand is manipulation. So the question then becomes, do we have anything to offer him or threaten him with?”

Maybe we could offer a free ‘All You Can Eat’ buffet, at the affair” Arturo quipped, as he lifted his head up from his own plate. “You know how that man loves to eat.”

Wait a minute everybody,” Angela put in. “I think that we’re focusing your attention on the wrong target. Everybody knows that Christy hasn’t been doing any this of his own free will, and would just as soon not bother. Randall’s been pulling the strings on that son of his and pulling them hard. If we want to get to Christy hooked, we need to figure out how to get to Randall hooked. So tell me then, how do we do that?”

Why not just put it on the line?” I asked, laying out the idea that had come to me earlier in the day. “If dueling is the big deal around here that everybody has been telling me, why not call it the challenge that it is, and literally throw down the gauntlet. I don’t know a whole lot about how most of this society works, but that seems like the most logical choice.

I’m sorry people. I’ve been worrying this like a bad tooth all day, and the best that I can come up with is this. Your society, for all its pronouncements of peace and brotherhood, still believes in the practice of dueling to settle points of honor. If we use that, it doesn’t matter then whether the target is Christy or Randall. Let’s make this a challenge of manhood for both of them, and make the debate the field of honor. With the proper stage set up, we can use the image of a duel as a backdrop for the benefit of the audience. This kind of artificial device will make the whole things less confusing to our voters, and will keep us from having to make too many explanations of what we're trying to do in the first place.”

Angela slid her arm around mine and kissed me on the cheek. “There are times Sean,” she said, “when I actually believe you might know what you are doing.”

Yeah,” Katie snickered. “The problem is that they are never the same times that Sean does. OK, so we issue the challenge. Who, how, and when do we do it?”


If this is going to be a duel,” I said, “then I would assume that the direct challenge needs to come from Phillip. I would also assume that sooner is better than later, so we can start to make the arrangements through the media. Andy, Katie, I’ll leave it to the two of you to set up the press conference required and write the appropriate remarks for Phillip to use to stir up the bad guys. The next step will be up to them, but I would be surprised if either of those two would or could refuse to take the bait. The size of their egos alone should compel them to accept.

Now if nobody has anything else, it appears to me that it is a perfect evening out there, and I just happen to have a beautiful woman next to me to enjoy it with.. So if the rest of you will excuse us…”

Oh great,” Arturo quipped. “Sean’s back on banker’s hours again.”

With that, we were dismissed from the room with a rousing “Get Lost!” from the laughing group. Tomorrow would take care of itself whether I wanted it to or not. The day’s earlier thoughts were still in the back of my mind. Time was beginning to feel precious to me, and what time I could beg, borrow or steal tonight was going to be for Angela and me.

The challenge was issued the following afternoon, and was as big a major media event as you might expect. The newspapers almost had a heart attack over the concept of a challenge being offered to settle the issues between the candidates face to face; since the last face to face meeting of candidates during a campaign had been in the ‘bad old days’ when the two candidates literally fought it out. Of course, the challenge that we issued was a non-violent one, but that made it even better as far as they were concerned. They were going to get the biggest event of the last couple of decades, and instead of a quick gunshot or sword battle they would get a battle of words, replete with the drama of pictures and quotable quotes that they could use for days. The fact that some lucky few of them were going to get to ask the candidates questions that they couldn't duck made it too good to be true as far as they were concerned.

I thought that a couple of them were going to lose control of their bowels when they realized the import of what we were proposing,” Katie laughed as she talked about the news conference. “This will be the only thing in the paper until the election.”


We thought that we were all going to be on pins and needles for thirty-six hours or more waiting for the response from our friends, but such would not to be the case. None of us had taken into account for some strange reason, that the press would be looking for their reaction to the challenge, and our reaction to the response from the bad guys before they filed their stories that day. So it was as we were all sitting down to dinner the next evening that the request came through to Phillip for that reaction on Christy’s response. We all listened together to the press release that Christy and his group had given.

I will not repeat any portion of the undiluted version of this as I have managed to keep most of the colorful language out of this recounting of events up until now. Even the reporters asking for comment said that they were going to have to work with their editors to clean the whole thing up before printing it.

The message was clear, if a bit salty, and was that they accepted our challenge with all their hearts, and looked forward to the day when they could make us look like the fools that we were. Katie’s response, which Phillip duly repeated, was a classic:

It is regrettable that the challenge that we honorably offered yesterday to our opponents should be responded to in such a manner. At a time when we at least are trying to see the tone and tenor of the campaign elevated out of the gutter and made a more positive experience, we would have hoped that a gesture like the one that we offered would have been responded to in the spirit with which it was issued. While we are little surprised by the lack of tact and respect shown to us and to the tone of the response presented herein, we are disappointed by it. Having said all of this, we look forward to working out with the challenged party, the details involved with this event. We hope that these proceedings will finally give the people of Macundo the opportunity that they deserve to hear the views of the candidates in the proper forum.”

Having gotten over this initial hurdle, you would think that the reaction would be one of relief; but ours was far from it. The game was on now and everything would probably be won or lost on this one bold throw of the dice. The fact that we had come up with the concept and had a couple of days jump on the competition should have given us an advantage, but I wasn’t all that confident that this was going to be the case. Our people had a little more time on their side, but were just as confused as we hoped the competition probably was over the whole thing. Neither side had ever tried to get ready for anything like this, and most seemed to be unsure of their roles.


Of course, that made my job for the next few days even tougher. I was forced to spend most of my time working with the negotiating team from Christy’s campaign and the media representatives on the rules under which the debate would operate. Since I was the only one in any way familiar with this type of event, I felt an obligation to everyone to guide the process, and keep the playing field as level as possible regardless of my own prejudice. This was not at all easy, as Christy’s PAC, though inexperienced in this type of debate, were overly experienced in the use of dirty tricks. They were convinced that everything that I offered was slanted towards my candidate, and rejected it out of hand. For their part, and while they had nothing constructive to offer, they managed to drag out the process of negotiation through an endless stream of ad hominem attacks and scathing diatribes. Perhaps fortunately for all of us, the media representatives quickly grasped the spirit of what I was trying to do, and wading into the noise and confusion, managed to broker the situation rather nicely. After some arm twisting and a couple of rather contentious and boisterous meetings, a final format was agreed upon.

  1. The debate would be held three days before the election.
  2. Each candidate would be allowed two minutes for an opening statement, with the order as to who was to go first to be decided by coin toss.
  3. Candidates would be asked questions alternately, and would be allowed one minute to answer. The other candidate would then be allowed one minute to respond.
  4. Each candidate would be allowed three minutes for a closing statement, with the order to be opposite that of the opening statement.
  5. Reporters on the panel would be chosen by lot, and would make their notes on questions available to their colleagues, but not to the candidates, before the event began so as to prevent duplication.
  6. Newsreel companies allowed to film would share transcripts of their footage with the print media, as well as sharing the raw footage of the event with other film companies not able to participate in the filming process by space constraints.

It probably wasn’t a perfect solution (nothing I'm sure would have), but would at least be a workable one when the time came.


I also spent some time with the three groups in setting up the theater area. The orchestra pit would be used for the members of the print media. Any members who could not be seated there would be given seats in the orchestra seating section of the hall. Camera positions were already available in the facility, having been placed there when it was built for other types of events. They would be manned by two separate filming crews, which would more than suit the needs of the event. Each of the respective candidates would then be granted half of the remaining seats for the event, so as to not create a bias in the audience that would disrupt or distract either the recording process or the candidates themselves.

Personally, I thought that this part of the negotiations made the whole thing sound like a college football game; but with the history that Randall and Christy had, I would have been more than happy to pack as many seats as we could with supporters. There was no telling whether we would need them as personal defenders before the night was over.

As for the set up for the candidates, two podiums would be placed on the stage for them to stand at, and they would be up front and at stage right and left respectively, about ten paces apart. A table would be set up at center stage - back, with the panel of reporters facing the audience and cameras as they asked their questions. The acoustics of the hall gave us no concerns as to the need to have the candidates use microphones in the hall, but the newsreel companies finally convinced us to place microphones on each podium and the center table so that they could adequately record sound on their systems. We agreed, as long as those microphones were not visible to the audience. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t particularly care if the audience saw the microphones or not. I just didn’t want something so visible to Phillip that it caused him to panic and freeze up when he had to speak.

There wasn’t much that Andy and Katie needed to do to keep the media’s attention on the upcoming event. Above the fold stories and sidebar columns on this unprecedented event in the election process seemed to be the only story in the country. The two of them needed to be constantly on call to comment on one thing or another relating to the both how the public would perceive this event, and what the result of it might be to each candidate. The comments given, at least the ones that I found time to read, were vintage Katie. They were the perfect combination of cautious neutrality with a positive outlook. Phillip was confident, since he expected to say nothing that wasn’t true, but not so overconfident that he would think that the result was a foregone conclusion. Our man was happy to see that both candidates were going to be able to share their views with the populace, and confident that they could make a good decision after having all of the facts. At the very least, Phillip was glad to be able to come out of the traditional hiding that the candidates do and lead a more normal life.


The opposite side acted as you might expect. They disparaged the entire process as useless, and they attempted to call Phillip’s manhood into question with the nature of such a non-physical challenge. (Surprisingly, no one in the media thought to as the follow up question of Christy that if it were in fact a physical challenge, wouldn't he be concerned over the size target he presented?) They were supremely overconfident, and promised to make short work of Phillip on their way to winning not only the debate, but also the election. Christy had gratefully come out of hiding immediately after the announcement, and was soon found taking advantage of his new found freedom in this situation by frequenting all of his old haunts. He was out on the town every night, came early, stayed late, and was surpassing his own standards for gluttony during the process. Surprising not only our gang, but probably his own as well, Christy managed not to make a complete fool of himself during this period. He was more than free in sharing his comments and opinions for quotation however. He was often heard to remark that he could easily defeat Phillip at any contest; whether it was at eating, drinking, or talking.

A couple of us wondered why he didn’t add any contests of athletic prowess to this particular list, while laughing over a drink one evening. Everyone thought that any such contest would be riotously funny until I described the sport of sumo wrestling to them.

From our point of view, Phillip did not change from his normally private lifestyle. He was out of hiding, but he and Lorelei as always, kept mostly to themselves. Phillip was accessible for the needs of the government, but for little else. Arturo worked with him every day on the preparation of information for use during the debate, and neither was usually found at the table except for our evening meal together. The relationship between the two, always very strong since the passing of Phillip’s father, seemed have grown even closer; and they were seldom outside of each other’s company as time went on. Katie noticed it before the rest of us, as Arturo had often followed her around as she made her way through her day’s labors in the past.

There’s something about those two that I just can’t put my finger on,” she said to us more than once, as we would find the two together talking in the fields or the library. “I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about them that gives me a funny feeling.”

I think you’re just jealous because Arturo has proven himself to be ‘man’s best friend’,” Andy sneered at her with a smile.


Which proves that he couldn’t be yours then, doesn’t it?” she sneered right back.

OK people,” I said, trying to calm things down again. (Actually, I was more concerned about losing another argument and the face that went with it, but I was trying to brass it out.) “Let’s keep our eye on the ball here.”

Keep our eye on the ball?” Andy repeated questioningly. “Does anybody know what he's talking about?”

Does anyone ever know what Sean is talking about, including Sean?” Katie chimed in, as if on queue.

OK. OK. You guys win, I lose. Tonight is the last night before the debate, and we have done as much as we can before it happens. If anyone has anything they want to say that isn’t humiliating me or putting me down, they should say it now. Otherwise, I say that we adjourn until tomorrow.”

He really is becoming a spoilsport, isn’t he?” Katie said to a nodding Andy as they made their way out of the dining room. “Let’s go have a drink and say nasty things about him behind his back for a while.”

A target,” I said to Angela with an ironic grin as we too left. “I came to this place for no other reason than to be a target for everyone here.”

I wouldn't that it's the only reason, “ she said as she smiled and took my arm and pulled me close to her. “On the other hand, you might be one of the only people around here who even thinks they know their purpose in life.” 


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